2020 Event Planning Trends: A Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

2020 will be a different year for everyone from both a business and personal standpoint and certainly when it comes to corporate meetings and events.  There is no doubt that the Coronavirus outbreak will dominate event planning trends, but there are some important new directions in corporate event planning that all company event planners should also be aware of.

Here are our top five corporate event planning trends for 2020:

#1: Coronavirus Fears and Realities Expand a Focus on Health and Wellness

The immediate impact of the coronavirus outbreak will be felt across the business community, with widespread cancellations and postponement of large-scale company events, from user conferences to investor meetings to VIP events and even company retreats and teambuilding events. Some internal and external events will go virtual but others will simply be cancelled or postponed until late summer, fall and winter 2020 or beyond. Until there is a viable vaccine, containment of the virus or a running of its course (similar to the seasonal flu, SARS, MERS), the outlook for these large-scale corporate events looks bleak.

That said, ultimately, we believe that the current situation will expand what was already a growing trend toward health and wellness as a focus of corporate events. Beginning with opportunities for attendees to meditate, do yoga and practice mindfulness, event hosts will now be even more clear about their health and wellness plans in advance of events, so attendees are reassured about both risk mitigation and opportunities to enhance their wellbeing during the event.

#2: Less-Traditional, Intimate Venue Spaces Increase in Popularity

We believe the current trend toward tapping into new, intimate venue spaces with more novel networking approaches will be enhanced by the current situation in 2020. These less-traditional spaces are being made available as vacant space is more creatively, temporarily used to host events in unleased commercial and retail properties. The advent of platforms such as Cvent, Peerspace and other DIY space listing solutions has fueled this trend in urban areas, and we see continued expansion of this trend in 2020.

#3: A More Personalized Approach for Attendee Outreach and Engagement

As data on event attendees is increasingly captured by event hosts, we believe that companies will start to strategically build databases allowing for segmentation of their event audiences and a more personalized understanding of what each event attendee seeks in an event. Imagine you knew which attendees cared about what and could emphasize those attributes in your event marketing to prospective attendees? Imagine you could segment the event experience to cater to your different segments in terms of interests, needs and attitudes? We see continued progress in both attendee research and event planning leveraging this knowledge moving forward.

#4: Broader Recognition of Event Sustainability as a “Must Have”

Until recently, making an event sustainable from an environmental standpoint was more of a marketing strategy versus a corporate or company event requirement. But that is changing! As the events industry embraces sustainability across the board, most company and corporate events will begin to incorporate this approach as a natural part of their event planning. At Anna Marie Events, we have seen this already with dynamic “green” sponsorship packages being the first to sell. From reusable water bottles and coffee cups to lack of plastic straws to biodegradable products and packaging to more efficient energy use, companies will increasingly be tapping into an environmental consciousness when planning both small and large-scale meetings and conferences.

#5: Technology Drives New Event Formats and Concepts

Finally, we believe that there will be a continued trend toward virtual events, event apps, virtual reality and AI applications. These will deepen and broaden the trend toward events becoming even more grounded in technology from both a planning and execution standpoint. They will allow more tailored event experiences for attendees, with data collected from attendees before, during and after the event increasingly allowing event organizers to make intelligent planning decisions.  Access to this data will enhance the planning of future corporate events and we predict we will see a very interesting blend of new event formats with more traditional models.

Anna Marie Events is committed to working closely with our clients to manage through the evolving situation with the coronavirus while leveraging the above trends to their benefit. If you have upcoming company or corporate offline or virtual events on your 2020 calendar, give us a call. We’d love to share our event concepting creativity, logistics management and contingency planning expertise with you!